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Delivering technical quality under time pressure

Being able to move quickly is an essential capability for oil and gas companies. Whether you’re planning development of a new opportunity, responding to unexpected production changes in a field or compiling reports against tight deadlines, you always need to be able to balance thorough technical evaluation with speed.

Fortunately, that isn’t a balance that companies have to strike alone. One of the most effective ways to improve your team’s manoeuvrability under pressure is to draw on the resources of outside experts, who have the capacity to provide the right skills at a moment’s notice.

 

Ideally you’d have more time, but often you simply don’t

Licensing round applications are an excellent example of the need to move quickly in this industry. Not only do they have hard deadlines to meet, but they also require a depth of technical evaluation and analysis in order to stand the best chance of winning, and that kind of work can’t be done overnight.

In an ideal world, we would have months to dedicate to collecting data and assembling reports for licensing rounds. But when we support clients on their applications for licences, it’s often the case that circumstances have left them unable to start the project as early as they’d planned, and they need help making the most of the time they do have – even if it’s a matter of days, not months.

Rockflow was involved in one such project in the North Sea, when a company reached out to us looking for a team to support the technical side of their application. We were brought in two days before Christmas, and the application was due in the second week of January.

Focus is critical with such a tight turnaround. Although we were there to assist with technical analysis, the first thing we did was go to the North Sea Transition Authority and understand exactly how their points system for awarding licences worked. That in turn structured the work we then carried out and gave both our team and the client the framework to carry out all the necessary evaluations in short order.

 

There are some corners you shouldn’t cut

It goes without saying that speed shouldn’t come at the expense of quality. But when the pressure of an impending deadline bears down, it’s easy for overstretched teams to look for ways to give themselves some breathing space.

While a licence application can be extremely complex, it is possible to bypass some of the usual process by looking over what other companies have done already and compiling a report from their data. However, the authorities rarely look kindly on an application lacking in original work, and trying to cut corners by raking over previous work from others can result in them looking less kindly on your application than a competitor’s. Of course taking a fresh look means you may spot opportunities that others have missed, improving the chance of licence award, or missing red flags alerting you that an application would be an unwise investment of time and money.

When Rockflow is brought in to assist companies with their licence round applications, we consider original work essential, no matter the time frame. Even in that two week period over Christmas when we worked on an application, we were still able to gather the necessary seismic and well data, carry out horizon mapping and depth conversions, deploy petrophysicists to examine the reservoirs, and draw original interpretations to populate our application.

Although we didn’t have the luxury of time to spare, we did have the necessary skills and experience on hand to help the client build an application that could stand strong before the North Sea Transition Authority.

 

Draw on the experience of those who’ve been there before

When you need to act fast under tight time pressure, multidisciplinary expertise is crucial to helping your team get over the line.

Part of that is about technical skill. At Rockflow, we’re able to deploy all of the technical capabilities a company might not have available in-house – from geophysicists to reservoir engineers and petrophysicists – and work alongside their internal teams as a ready-made department and integrated team.

One common pitfall when companies have to move forward quickly is focusing too much on the technical aspects of an application and missing the bigger picture. Even if you only bring in a partner to assist in terms of technical experience, the additional capacity they bring gives your team more freedom to work on the political, environmental and commercial concerns.

But more than that, it’s also the experience of knowing what a project needs even at short notice. When you’ve been involved in licence round applications for years, you know what the authorities are looking for and what the crucial elements of an application are. That experience brings a company the clarity to be able to move fast, without losing focus under pressure.

To learn more about how we can help, head over to our Technical Excellence page.

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